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There were 2.7 million job openings on the last business day of March 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on May 11. The job openings rate was unchanged over the month at 2.0 percent. The hires rate (3.3 percent) was little changed and the separations rate (3.1 percent) was unchanged in March. This release includes estimates of the number and rate of job openings, hires and separations for the total non-farm sector by industry and geographic region.
The number of job openings was little changed in March at 2.7 million but has trended upward since the most recent trough of 2.3 million in July 2009. The job openings level was little changed in March for all industries and all four regions.
The number of job openings in March was little different from 12 months earlier for total non-farm, total private, government, most industries and in three of the four regions over the year. The level increased in the West over the year.
The hires rate was little changed in March at 3.3 percent. The rate has remained between 3.0 percent and 3.3 percent since September 2008. The hires rate was little changed in March for most industries and three of the four regions; the rate increased in the South.
Over the 12 months ending in March, the hires rate (not seasonally adjusted) increased for total non-farm, total private and government. The hires rate was little changed in most industries. The hires rate increased in the Midwest and was little changed in the remaining regions over the year.
Total separations includes quits (voluntary separations), layoffs and discharges (involuntary separations) and other separations (including retirements). The total separations, or turnover, rate was unchanged in March for total non-farm and remained low at 3.1 percent. The rate was also unchanged over the month for total private and government. The total separations rate (not seasonally adjusted) decreased over the 12 months ending in March for total non-farm and total private, while the rate for government increased.
The quits rate can serve as a measure of workers’ willingness or ability to change jobs. In March, the quits rate remained unchanged for total non-farm (1.4 percent) and total private (1.6 percent) while the rate for government was little changed (0.5 percent). The rate was little changed over the month for all industries and regions.
Over the 12 months ending in March, the quits rate (not seasonally adjusted) was little changed for total non-farm, total private and government as well as in every industry and region.
The layoffs and discharges component of total separations is seasonally adjusted at the total non-farm, total private and government levels. The layoffs and discharges level was little changed in March for total non-farm (1.8 million), total private (1.7 million) and government (132,000).
The layoffs and discharges rate (not seasonally adjusted) fell over the 12 months ending in March for total non-farm and total private and was little changed for government. The layoffs and discharges rate fell over the year in many industries and in three of the four regions – Midwest, South and West.
The other separations series is not seasonally adjusted. In March, there were 310,000 other separations for total non-farm, 264,000 for total private and 46,000 for government. Compared to March 2009, the number of other separations was little changed for total non-farm, total private and increased for government.
The total separations level is influenced by the relative contribution of its three components – quits, layoffs and discharges, and other separations. The percentage of total separations at the total non-farm level attributable to the individual components has varied over time. The proportion of quits had exceeded the proportion of layoffs and discharges every month from the beginning of the series in December 2000 until November 2008 when layoffs and discharges became the larger contributor to total separations. In April 2009, the proportion of quits hit a low of 39 percent and began to rise, while the proportion of layoffs and discharges hit a high of 56 percent and began to fall.
In February 2010, the relative contribution reversed again with the proportion of quits (47 percent) slightly exceeding the proportion of layoffs and discharges (46 percent). The proportions for quits and layoffs and discharges remained the same in March 2010.